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Learning Mindful Body Movement at Movement Insights Pilates Studio That Practices 'Health Convergence'

By Kelly Church

When Collette Stewart moved from New York to Madison, WI, she quickly realized there was a significantly smaller population that was familiar with Pilates. Stewart, who spent years teaching Pilates in New York, has a background in dance, yoga and other types of bodywork. Once she arrived in Madison, she hesitated opening her own business, but knew it was her best option. Soon after, Movement Insights Mindful Pilates came to fruition, inspired by her desire to deepen people's overall self-awareness and empower people to understand their bodies better. Mindful Insights offers the community a physical program that focuses on all elements of health: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

"Once I started teaching on my own, I was happy with the freedom it gave me to incorporate new ideas into the work," Stewart said. "Incorporating [my varied background] into Pilates allowed me to create a particularly in-depth and unique approach."

Stewart calls her practice a health convergence, incorporating multiple aspects of a person's health into one comprehensive program. In addition to pulling from traditional Pilates methods, Stewart also uses imagery, energy and meditation for positive results. Imagery work helps her clients connect with specific parts of the body that can be difficult to feel by having a mental picture of it. Her energy practice uses the seven chakras of the body to help create a more balanced mood and overall being. Meditation allows her clients to effectively tap into their minds and develop a deeper sense of awareness. All of these elements combined are how Stewart makes her method a mind and body practice.

"When you practice movement with an intent to stay aware of the experience and focus on aligned movement, you begin to make connections," Stewart said. "You make physical connections, like how working the core helps to release tension in the hips and shoulders. You also begin to understand your personal compensatory patterns, like maybe you grab in your neck every time you hold your legs in the air."

Stewart connects these patterns to everyday factors. She says the way a person reacts in the studio is similar to how they react to stress outside of the studio. A common sign of stress is tension in the neck, while impaired breathing can be a sign of depression. Stewart said paying attention to the body during sessions helps her clients identify how their bodies respond in stressful, everyday situations and they can make a conscious decision to remedy them, thus controlling stressors.

"A comment I hear often from clients is that my sessions work deeply and focus on educating through movement concepts," Stewart said. "I'm happy to teach Pilates as a workout, but I also want to make sure that students walk out with a few ideas that they can continue to work with on their own ? ideas that they can apply to other activities and more generally to the movement they make throughout their day."

This was Stewart's primary vision behind Movement Insights ? helping the community how their bodies work now to then help those bodies work even better. She has helped many clients recover from injuries using Pilates techniques to shift movement patterns so recovery is smooth and long-term.

Stewart also offers teacher training for those who want to become Pilates instructors. Stewart has been teaching Pilates for 20 years, and training other teachers for a decade. Her program at Movement Insights is designed from her experience teaching Pilates over so many years, and her knowledge of bodywork in general. The program is a series of three courses, and can be registered for online.

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